The month of June has been a relative quiet one for fights in Asia, especially when compared to the incredible action we had in May and the busy schedule set for July. It does however end with a really interesting bout in Korea, as unbeaten local star Hyun Mi Choi (15-0-1, 4) defends her WBA female Super Featherweight title against Japanese challenger Wakako Fujiwara (7-2-2, 2). For the unbeaten queen this will be her 7th defense and her 15th WBA "world title" bout, whilst the challenger will be fighting in her first world title bout, having previously held OPBF and Japanese female titles.
The champion is a really interesting fighter. She was born in North Korea but escaped the regime with her family and has spent her entire professional career in South Korea, where she has been a real success story as a refugee fighter. Her career began, amazingly, with a world title fight in 2008, when she beat Chunyan Xu for the WBA female Featherweight title, to create a notable footnote in boxing history. Since then all but two of her fights have been for some form of a WBA title. She made 7 defenses of the Featherweight title, won the Interim Super Featherweight title, got up graded and has defended the Super Featherweight regular title 6 times already.
Whilst Choi hasn't become a major name in female boxing world wide she has had a few really solid wins in her career. These have included wins over Claudia Andrea Lopez, Sandy Tsagouris, Shannon O'Connell, Fujin Raika, Diana Ayala and Mayra Alejandra Gome, all world class fighters in their own right.
Choi's success has come down to her pure boxing skills. She's a basic fighter, but one who follows the text book well. She's light on her feet, has good hand speed, and fights to her strengths, keeping the bout at range with her jab, footwork and straight. There is is more to her than he straight punching, but that is certainly her strength and the key to her success so far.
The 38 year old Fujiwara is 10 years older than the champion and notably didn't even debut until she was. Her career got off to a nightmare start, losing by KO in her debut, then fighting to a draw in her second bout. In fact Fujiwara was 1-2-1 after 4 contests and her career didn't seem like it was going anywhere. Amazingly however she has battled back and gone 7-0-1, winning the Japanese female Featherweight title in March 2018 then added the OPBF title less than 4 months later to unify the titles. Whilst her run has been good on paper it is worth noting her biggest wins have come against the likes of Asami Jinnari and Kimika Miyoshi.
Fujiwara isn't the most technically sound boxer, her shots wide to say the least, but she comes forward, fights bouts at her pace and believes in her chin enough to she can take one to land one. Given her age there is clearly a case of father time being on her back, though we do wonder how long she can have left, especially with a style that depends so much on volume and work rate.
Given the huge difference in technical ability, and world level experience, it's hard to see anything but a win for Choi. The bigger question is the method of victory, and we're going with Choi to actually stop Fujiwara late on to, through accumulation of clean shots.
Prediction - Choi TKO9
Female boxing is on the rise, with more attention being given to it than ever before and more and more female fighters being involved in interesting match ups. No longer is female boxing a case of a trained athlete against going up against someone who has little idea of the sport in a world title fight, but instead we're getting two trained fighters meeting a pure contest of skills. One of the best things about the rise in female boxing is that the previous generation's fighters are being met by a rising wave of young prospects who have come through the amateur ranks and look like polished fighters straight away.
We've already seen fighters like Kasumi Saeki and Eri Matsuda race away to titles, and we're now expecting to see Mizuki Chimoto (1-0, 1) follow suit. The unbeaten 25 year old from the Watanabe gym gets a chance to claim a title in just her second professional bout as she takes on Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano (8-8-1, 2) on June 25th. A win for Chimoto will see her match Matsuda's achievement of winning a title in just her second bout, whilst a win for Higano would be her first successful defense of the title.
Chimoto was a stellar amateur, running up a 45-12 record in the unpaid ranks, placing in national competitions and gaining some valuable international experience. That foundation saw her turn professional last year with big expectations on her shoulders. She debuted in November, on an all female card, and impressed as she stopped Thai visitor Kannika Bangnara in 3 rounds. It was clear from the start that Shimoto knew her way around the ring, she judged distance well, made the Thai flail at the air and landed her own sharp shots. She looked incredibly relaxed and calm, sharp and smart, and mixed up her shots really well.
Despite being a professional novice it's clear that Chimoto is a very talented and special fighter, and someone who's amateur credentials have marked her as someone who will be fast tracked.
With 17 fights behind her Higano is much more experienced in the pro-ring than Chimoto and she debuted more than 5 years ago. The 34 year old has a very mixed record, but she has been in with a genuine who's who of the Japanese female scene, including Shione Ogata, Saemi Hanagata, Momo Koseki and Nanae Suzuki. In terms of international bouts she has faced the likes of Eun Hye Lee and Casey Morton, and was very competitive with both. Despite being a veteran she only actually won her Japanese title this past February, in her second shot at the title.
Despite losing 8 of her 17 bouts Higano is a really solid fighter, she's aggressive, she sets a high work-rate and comes forward with a lot of upper body movement high volume output. There's a lack of real crispness to her work, but she's a nightmare with her pressure and output and will ask a lot of questions of very good fighters.
Higano certainly has the style to test Chimoto, she has the experience and energy to push the novice all the way in a really tough bout. But, we suspect the amateur skills, the crisp punching and the sharp movement of Chimoto will see her over the line and put her on the fast track to a world title fight. It'll be tough, but we see Chimoto taking the clear decision.
Prediction Chimoto UD6
June 19th is set to be a hectic day for fight fans thanks to a big show in Chiba. One of the many bouts on that card will see a new WBO female Super Flyweight champion being crowned, as Miyo Yoshida (12-1) and Casey Morton (8-1-3, 1) battle for the currently vacant title. For both fighters this will be their first world title bout, and potentially their only shot at world gold, given that both are the wrong side of 30.
Yoshida has been a revelation over the last 2 years or so. She debuted in 2014, in a 4 round bout, and struggled past Ayaka Sato and then took a significant break from the ring before returning to struggle past Yuko Henzan. Yoshida would win her first 4 bouts, all close decisions, before her luck ran out and she was beaten by Yuki Koseki in September 2016. Since the loss however she has gone 7-0 and shown massive improvements. Her 7-0 run has seen her avenge her loss to Koseki as well as claim the Japanese female Bantamweight title, with a win over Tomomi Takano, and later unify the title with the OPBF female Bantamweight title, which she won in 2018 with a technical decision over Gretel de Paz.
In the ring Yoshida is a good boxer-mover. She lacks power but has shown an ability to fight at a good pace, grit her teeth when he needs to and dig deep to get the win. He victory over Takano was deemed a big upset and since then her confidence has grown and grown. Sadly whilst her confidence has gotten better her competition really hasn't improved, though a win in March against Yoshie Wakasa was among her best wins to date.
At the age of 31 Yoshida is on the wrong end of 30, however Morton is the older fighter, at 35, and is also the fighter with the less impressive form coming in to this bout. The "Lady Hawaiian Punch" also debuted in 2014 and has fought consistently since then, with multiple bouts a year. She has fought not in the US and Mexico but has also been on an Asia tour, of sorts, in recent years with her last 5 bouts being spread between the Philippines and China. We mentioned her form a moment a go and that is, in part at least, due to her 2018 upset loss to Jutamas Jitpong in China, in a bout where Morton was made to look second rate to the Thai. It's also worth noting that over her last 8 she is 5-1-2, with draws against the then debuting Karla Gonzalez and the then 1-2 Samantha Salazar.
To date Morton's best win, at least on paper, is a shut out in the Philippines against Kanchana Tungthaisong, who was a shadow of the fighter she had once been and a narrow win over Japanese female Minimumweight champion Chie Higano. Both several classes below Yoshida, both technically and physically.
Morton will know this may well be her first and only chance at a world title, but she will be up against a naturally bigger fighter who is full of confidence and we suspect that size and belief will be the difference, leading to a clear decision win for Yoshida.
Prediction UD10 Yoshida
Here we preview the key female title bouts involving an Asian fighter.